One of the best things about summer is that we all eat better; more salads, vegetables, fish and plenty of water and liquids (of the non-alcoholic variety, of course). Perfect food for healthier skin. As someone who has eczema, I know firsthand that my skin reacts positively and negatively to whatever I put into my body.
We all know that fruit and vegetables are packed full of goodness. Certain fruit and veggies also have powerful antioxidants which help to protect skin cells from damage caused by all the not-so-healthy things we do, such as the smoking and the drinking, and the external factors like too much sun and pollution. It is always a good idea to ensure your dinner plate is a rainbow of fruit and vegetables. Things like pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and kale, blueberries and mangoes are known as ‘superfoods for a reason. They are jam-packed with antioxidants which support normal skin cell development.
Keep your immune system strong: Are you prone to ailments such as allergies and colds? Make sure you are supporting your immune system with plenty of Vitamin C which is also a super antioxidant, helping skin to heal properly and which strengthens the capillaries that supply the skin and keeps our skin tight and wrinkle-free. Get down to your local market and stock up on blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, strawberries, kiwi fruits, papaya and oranges which are all packed full of Vitamin C and collagen. Also eat plenty of foods high in vitamin E such as almonds, hazlenuts and pine nuts and avocado and sunflower oil.
Selenium is another antioxidant which is as essential as vitamins E and C for a healthy immune system. A Selenium-rich diet can help to protect against skin cancer and premature ageing. Selenium can be found in Brazil nuts, shellfish ,fish, eggs, wheatgerm and tomatoes.
Hydration. Drink eight glasses or two litres of fluids a day, though water is always going to be the best. If you sit at a computer all day, keep a small bowl or cup of water on your desk to keep the air around you hydrated as well as drinking it. Research has shown that computers, electrical equipment and radiators can dehydrate the skin, so it’s a good idea to hang open water bottles on radiators to keep the skin moist. Remember, approximately 20 percent of water intake actually comes from food, especially water-drenched foods like watermelon and cucumber. So eat regularly and healthily and you won’t need those litres at all!
‘Good’ fats and ‘bad’ fats. Foods like avocado and oily fish, nuts and seeds are packed full of essential fatty acids which are the skin’s natural moisturisers. These fats also carry vitamin E so are doubly good things to eat in moderation.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fats cannot be made in the body and must be obtained through diet and can also be found in oily fish and plant sources such as mackerel, flaxseed, linseeds and rapeseed oil. These essential fats encourage the body to produce anti-inflammatory compounds which are good for people who suffer from eczema and psorasis.
B6 is also good for your skin, helping your body metabolise protein and keeping red blood cells healthy, but more importantly for skin, it helps to boost your immune system. Apparently, it also reduces the risk of lung cancer for both current and former smokers too, so chow down on chickpeas, chestnuts, pork and poultry, fish, peanuts and potatoes.
Zinc helps the function of the body’s sebaceous glands which produce oil in the skin. It also helps to repair skin damage. Zinc can be found in fish, poultry, lean red meat and shellfish, as well as wholegrains, nuts and seeds.